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After seeing this helping tower on Amazon, I thought it would be perfect for Elijah. He loves to see what we’re doing up on the counter or what I’m working on at the workbench in the garage. But $200!? That seemed a bit crazy and I figured I could build it myself. I was going to start designing some plans, but then a quick search landed me at Ana White’s awesome website. She has very nice plans for a tower that’s very similar to the one at Amazon. A quick trip to Home Depot for some wood and I was off and running.

The build went pretty quickly. The only part that was a little tricky was that I decided to add hinges so it would fold flat for easy moving/storage. I had to do a couple assembly/disassembly cycles to get the pieces all cut right so it would open up square and not bind. After that it was time for sanding and a few coats of polyurethane.

This was my first build using a new brad nailer and it was a huge help. I told Tyla it almost feels like cheating! That feeling was diminished by my lack of skill as I continually shot nails out the sides of my pieces, but I’ll get better with practice.

Elijah LOVES his tower. He immediately figured out how to climb up and the highest setting for the platform is perfect for him. As he grows, the platform is easy to remove and insert at a lower rung.

Remember that $200 tower on Amazon? My bill was $21 for wood, $18 for hinges and then a little sandpaper and polyurethane that I already had laying around. $39. BAZINGA!

P.S. I don’t know if you can see it in the photos, but Elijah had just come in from playing in the dirt and I missed a spot right on the bridge of his nose. Ha!

A while back I wrote a post wondering why there were no good sites with woodworking plans that were nicely categorized and reviewed. Most of my requirements in that post have been met at http://ana-white.com

There are over 1000 plans on the site and they are all free. Each one that I’ve looked at has had very detailed diagrams, cut lists, etc and none of them have been too terribly complicated. You’re not going to find heirloom quality pieces here for the most part, but there is are a lot of great ideas for around the house.

I’ve burned a lot of time flipping through the projects and getting ideas. Stay tuned for a post about one project I’ve already built using plans from this site!

This summer, I spotted the Bing street view vehicle a couple of times in our area. One of the times, I was out on a walk with Elijah.

The car also drove past our house in the middle of our yard project so the side yard looks oh so beautiful.

But Tim wins for the picture they took driving past his house.

The Seahawks faltered again this week. In five games, they have yet to regain their dominance from last season. Forget about the Super Bowl repeat. Let’s make it through the first round of the playoffs. Here are some of the big changes I see from last season:

  • Opposing teams are getting too many yards of the catch. Last year, guys might catch a short pass but they’d be immediately met by the Legion of Boom to pay for their catch.
  • Where are the turnovers and the sacks? So many opposing red zone drives ended in interceptions last year that it was almost expected. This year the team is almost last in the league in sacks and turnovers.
  • People attending the games say it’s still loud, but have there been ANY false starts by the opposition in Seattle yet?
  • On the flip side, the Seahawks have a flood of pre-snap penalties.
  • The secondary is starting to look like Swiss cheese. They’re pulling up players from the practice squad just to field a complete team.
  • Last year, the Seahawks made a big improvement in their third down defense and it was a major factor in their championship run. This year they are 6th worst in the league.

Ok, enough moaning about a team that still has a 4-2 record. There was big news in our league: Tim lost! Jim finally beat him, but Tim still has sole possession of first place. Jim and Luke are tied for second, I’m in fourth and then everyone else is tied at 2-4 for fifth place. Our longest league winning and losing streaks were broken this week too.

Now on to the weekly awards.

  • Highest Team Score
    • This Week:  Austin had 137.67
    • Season: In Week 5, Jim had 160.52
    • All-Time: In 2013, Tim had 195.50
  • Lowest Team Score
    • This Week:  Andy had 78.04
    • Season: In Week 3, Luke had 55.04
    • All-Time: In 2011, Luke had 47.01
  • Biggest Blowout
    • This Week:  Austin beat Andy by 59.63
    • Season: In week 5, Tim beat Dad by 81.60
    • All-Time: In 2010, Luke beat Andy by 113.02
  • Closest Win
    • This Week:  Luke beat Logan by 18.17
    • Season: In Week 2, Austin beat Ben by 1.7
    • All-Time: In 2012, Jim beat Ben by 0.12
  • Highest Scoring Player
    • This Week:  Joe Flacco had 42.24 as a free agent!
    • Season: Previous record was in Week 3, Andrew Luck had 40.30 for Ben
    • All-Time: In 2013, Peyton Manning scored 60.28 for Andy
  • Longest Winning Streaks:
    • Active:  Jim has a 3 game winning streak
    • Season: Tim had a 5 game winning streak
    • All-Time: In 2011, Micah had an 8 game winning streak
  • Longest Losing Streaks:
    • Active:  Dad and Andy have 2 game losing streaks
    • Season: Austin had a 3 game losing streak
    • All-Time: In 2011, Kyle had a 14 game losing streak

Tony Romo was pretty happy for most of the game as he led his team to the win, but I had to chuckle at this screen grab. He’s got his hand in the air making a pistol motion presumably for an audible, but he already stamped his foot for the ball. What followed was reminiscent of Peyton Manning’s missed snap in the Super Bowl. Without plays like this and the blocked punt, the game would have been a blowout.

I’ve been getting a few Visa/AmEx/Mastercard gift cards for various things like rebates. They’re nice in that you can use them anywhere, but it’s a struggle for me to remember how much money is left and it’s not always easy to pay use the remainder of the gift card and then put the rest on another card. That’s when I realized that I could just take these gift cards, buy Amazon gift cards for the exact same amount, and then I don’t have to worry about it. At future checkouts, Amazon automatically pulls from my gift card balance first. Since we spend a ton of money there anyway, it works out really well.

A while back we checked out some of the knockoff jerseys that are widely available. They were close but disappointing. Thanks to Tyla’s parents, I now have an officially licensed jersey and it’s awesome! So what are the big differences? Well this photo shows the major problem I had:

The real jersey on the left has greens that match throughout the jersey. On the right, the green on the shoulders doesn’t match the green around the lettering. It seems small but it looks a bit silly in person and it’s obvious you’' have a fake. Looking closer at it, you can also see that the stitching is fraying after a single wash.

Save your money and get the real thing.

The fun part of Legos for me was usually putting them together. Grabbing random pieces and building from your imagination is fun, but building an actual kit was always special. There’s a great service that I just learned about called Pley. You set up a queue from about 250 different Lego sets and for $15/month, they will send you one of the kits. When you’re done, box it back up and send it back. Then they send you the next one. And yes germophobes, they are cleaned and sanitized before they go out again.

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